In January 2021, the Consumer Protection Safety Commission * published a report on the number of accidents involving a piece of furniture or a television that fell on someone. Of the 571 deaths, 469 were children under the age of 18. The report covered the years between 2000 and 2019.
In January 2018, the CPSC published a similar report that covered the years 2000 to 2017. During this period, 542 deaths were reported, of which 450 affected children under the age of 14. Nineteen other teenagers were killed between the two reporting periods because a television or a piece of furniture was not anchored. In both studies, the vast majority of deaths related to television.
Congressman Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, and Senator Robert Casey, sponsor of Pennsylvania, want to make furniture safer with the Stop Tip-Overs for Unstable, Risky Dressers of Youth of 2021 (STURDY Act). The proposed legislation, first introduced in 2019 and not taken into account, was reintroduced by Schakowsky and Casey in February 2021. So far, the bill has 15 co-sponsors in the Senate, including Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Corey Booker of New Jersey.
According to consumer reports, the current standards for furniture stability are voluntary. Manufacturers are not required to conduct safety tests before putting furniture on the market.
If it were to become law, the legislation would direct the CPSC to develop and enforce mandatory stability standards for clothing units such as chests, chests of drawers, and offices. The legislation is supported by several consumer groups, including Tipped Parents and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Robert Calandra is an award-winning journalist and author who has written extensively on health and medicine. His work has been published in national and regional magazines and newspapers.
* Consumer Protection and Safety Commission; January 2021. Product instability or tip-over injuries and deaths related to televisions, furniture and appliances: 2020 report.
** Consumer Protection and Safety Commission; October 2018. Product instability or tip-over injuries and deaths related to televisions, furniture and appliances: 2018 Report.